On This Day in History: Prohibition Began

beer on tap

Just What Was Prohibition in America?

On this day in 1920, the 18th Amendment prohibiting the manufacture, sale, or transportation of alcohol was passed by Congress.  This ban on alcohol, known as Prohibition, came in response to the alcoholism, family violence, and saloon-based political corruption that religious groups associated with the alcoholic beverage trade.  While Prohibition was met with much opposition, the ban remained in effect until 1933 when the 21st Amendment was passed to repeal the 18th Amendment.

To better understand what the anniversary of this alcohol-free era involved, here is some information about Prohibition.

1) It was never actually illegal to drink during Prohibition.  While the 18th Amendment banned the manufacture, sale, and distribution of alcoholic beverages, it did not outlaw consumption.

2) Advocates of Prohibition believed that the alcohol ban would lower crime rates and strengthen families.  Unfortunately, they were mistaken.  During the Prohibition era, organized crime, violence, and massive political corruption increased in relation to the illegal alcohol trade.

3) Bootleggers were people who illegally made, imported, or sold alcohol during Prohibition. Bootlegging grew into a massive illegal empire characterized by bribery and corruption.  People also took to producing their own illicit booze or ‘moonshine’, ‘bath-tub gin’ or home-brewed beer.

4) Approximately 3,000 Americans died every year from the effects of drinking tainted illegal alcohol from the black market.

5) Speakeasies were saloons or nightclubs that secretly sold alcohol during Prohibition. They got their names because patrons had to whisper a codeword or name at the door to be granted entry.

6) The act defined intoxicating liquor as anything that contained one half of one per cent alcohol by volume, but allowed the sale of alcohol for medicinal, sacramental, or industrial purposes.

Join us at The Maria Sanchez Show as we commemorate the anniversary of Prohibition.  Don’t forget to check out our latest program, Shadow Politics with Senator Michael D. Brown.   Tune in on Sundays at 4:00 p.m. PST/7:00 p.m. EST.

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